Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Stories from Hans Christian Andersen - Illustrated by Anne and Janet Grahame Johnstone

Hi all!

So I promised you that I would later speak about the Johnstone sisters and in particular their illustrations.

Janet and Anne were twins, who embarked on a lifelong illustrating career together, Janet was responsible for drawing animals and Anne's specialty was period costumes. Throughout their lifetimes they illustrated hundreds and hundreds of children's books. Despite their work during the 50s, they've been most notable for their work in Dodie Smith's One Hundred and One Dalmatians, as well as their work with Dean & Son, Mae Broadley and Enid Blyton.

However, in 1979 Janet died in an accident in her home, which I've heard was a fire (?) Anne had to then learn how to draw animals and so carry on the great work they'd been doing. She went on to illustrate The Water Babies, Peter Pan, My Christmas Book of Stories and Carols and many more.

Today I am going to share with you a book, that appears to be quite rare, I've only ever seen a tiny selection of its images online, and its thought to be virtually unseen. But I managed to find it on a German site a while ago and ordered it as quickly as I could (truly hoping that it was the right one.)
 The book called Stories from Hans Christian Andersen translated by Mae Broadley and illustrated by the Johnstone sisters was published by World Distributed in 1968. Following the typical style of the sisters everything is done in intricate detail, however, it seems as though some of the colours are more faint compared to other books of theirs I own.

Just for the record I am probably not going to say much during this post. Instead, feel free to gawk, and sigh just as I do!

This one is from The Nightingale, it reminds me so much of the oriental images my mum had in our house, just gorgeous!

 I adore the little harlequin with her pretty patterns!

This one story is a little more frightening, but I love the use of shadow and in particularly the stained glass windows.This one is The Red Shoes.

Little Tuk - I love the swirly bed posts!

 Warning: You may soon realize that I am quite the fan of The Little Mermaid.

Part of me still prefers the Disney version, I know, I know, how can you? But being the person I am I love the happy ending.

This is my favourite image in the whole book. Princess Elise in The Wild Swans is illustrated so well -  she's completely stunning in my opinion. So for any would-be vintage book collectors this is one to get, but it is text heavy and in true Hans Christian Andersen-style it isn't entirely a happily ever after. But his stories have great depth and beauty. Stories I am sure could still be appreciated by children today.

Thank you for reading!

Next Time: The Magic World of  Fairies - Illustrated by Beverlie Manson


  1. Beautiful and yes, I did a lot of sighing! Thank you for sharing so many gorgeous pictures. Barbara.

  2. Thank you for this - my brothers sold my books when I was a teenager because they needed money and I have been trying to find this exact book ever since but didn't know the details, so although I can't find a copy at the moment, after 40 years I finally know what I'm looking for! My most memorable image was always the sea witch from "Mermaid" but I have loved all these beautiful pictures since I was 8 years old. Thank you again for posting. Sandy

  3. I too had this book as a child, but sadly its in terrible was much read and loved by myself for many years....I am trying to find a book restorer to see if anything can be done....

  4. Oh myy, I am soo thankfull for you to post this! :) I used to have a Dutch version of this book as a child and very little other illustrations can ever compare to the beauty and elegance of these.. I too was a uge fan of the little mermaid :) Unfortunatly I don't know what happened to the book... I remember in my version there was this beautiful picture of Elise from the Wild Swans, at nighttime, she was kneeling down to maybe pick up a white feather or something.. Her hair was loose and impressively beautiful, as I remember it :) It was my favorite picure but I cannot find it online anywhere.. So I wondered if you could maybe please please upload a picture of it here? (if it is in your book too, of course) I hope you don't think it is rude of me to ask.. I'll be thankfull forever! :)

    Love, Amber

  5. my mum still has this book and it's now sitting on my own bookshelf, she got it in 1968 when she was like 6 or 7, and it's still holding together now.

  6. I do have a copy of this book, not in terribly good shape. I am Sparkle Books and someone is looking at this copy right now, but you can google me if interested. I was touched by the request for a scan of Elise and the feather so I did scan it. Not sure how to send it by this format.

    1. I will take it if you still have it.

    2. Email me at

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